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May 07 2014

Which episodes you 'must' watch to catch up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The author maintains that several episodes may be skipped if you're trying to quickly catch up on the show. Do you agree?

I don't agree. I think every episode has value. Each episode either furthers the plot, develops characters, or both.
Yeah, I agree with libradude. While I spent the weekend binge watching the show, my brother actually saw exactly the episodes suggesting and he keeps telling me he feels like he's missed important stuff. Mostly Quinn related stuff but nonetheless. I'd get more specific but I have a horrid memory for the episodes. (Have yet to start rewatching everything.)

Meh episodes or not. I mean maybe there are one or two but I didn't think any one episode was so bad or offered nothing at all.

[ edited by TenTonParasol on 2014-05-07 02:20 ]
I also think that if someone made a FIREFLY list like this, the internet would be up in arms. Both shows feature a similar format consisting of some stand-alone episodes that exist for character development and some episodes that further the plot (or a combination). In my opinion, this 'lazy person's guide is demeaning to the writers, actors, and everyone else who worked on each of the episodes that weren't included in this list.
You need "The Girl in the Flowered Dress" or whatever it was called if you're going to get ANYWHERE with understanding what's going on. It might not have been my favorite episode this season, but it set up soooo much.

Same goes for others, but that's the one that immediately came to mind.
There was talk about which episodes to see before going to see Captain America. And I have forgotten which one is crucial to be seen right before. Can someone please tell me the list. Thanks.
Eye Spy is also pretty important in the grand scheme of things.
madmolly, episodes 1-16 lead up to Captain America 2. You should watch all of those.
It also hurts more if you are betrayed by a friend rather than by a clipnote.
The problem is people only have so much time on their hands to watch television. Asking a person to shotgun twenty-one episodes before seeing the finale is a hard thing -- even if you watched three episodes a day, it would still take seven days to get caught up.

So making a "quick list" is good for those who want to know what's happening, get a feel for the show before watching the finale. I agree, it's not the ideal solution, but it's helpful.

There are only two episodes missing from that list that I would include: "Girl in the Flower Dress" and "Seeds."
alliterator, I see where you're coming from, but this list is the equivalent of telling someone to pick up a book they've never read and instructing them to only read every other chapter. The AoS writers created every episode (aka chapter) for a reason, and the episodes are meant to be watched in sequence. People are going to do whatever they want, but I highly advise against only watching certain episodes. Among other things, the viewer will miss so much character development which will make the big reveals so much less powerful (as Darkness mentioned).
As an example of what I mean, this list does not include 1.7 "The Hub." That episode is where Ward and Fitz bond. If the viewer skipps that episode, he/she will have no idea why Fitz is so heartbroken by the Ward reveal.
I agree with libradude. I realise people only have so much time to watch any TV, but if they've made the decision not to watch S.H.I.E.L.D., then why watch the finale? None of the TV shows Joss has been involved in were made to be watched in anything but the order he wrote them (Firefly, anyone?) because they all build up as they go along. If you miss the episode where they find the woman with the implanted eye, you miss the horror at the end of the episode when Mike wakes up with the implant. As libradude also says, you miss the character development that makes you care about these people and therefore what happens to them.
libradude - it's not the equivalent of telling someone to read every other chapter of a book, because the chapters of a book are meant to be read one after the other. The episodes of a television show, unless they are super serialized (like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad), are supposed to be somewhat self-contained, while at the same time creating a larger myth-arc.

So while some episodes, like "The Hub," do provide extra context for that mytharc, the overall story of "The Hub" doesn't provide any needed information.

Think about this: The X-Files was divided up into "Monster of the Week" episodes and "Mytharc" episodes. You could skip a MotW episode most of the time and still know what was going on. Similarly, you could skip some episodes of AoS and still know what's going on. They provide extra context, but if you just want to know the essentials, they are not needed.

And people may not have watched AoS at first because they heard that it was slow or disappointing, but now that it's picked up and they've heard it's gotten better, they may want to see it. Hence: the list.

[ edited by alliterator on 2014-05-07 07:29 ]
"The Hub" is my favorite episode of the season. I think it's completely crucial to Fitz's character.
@QingTing: Totally agree about The Hub. Fitz's behavior in the last two episodes doesn't make as much sense nor have the same emotional impact if you haven't seen it.

[ edited by Penthos on 2014-05-07 13:53 ]
"it's not the equivalent of telling someone to read every other chapter of a book, because the chapters of a book are meant to be read one after the other."

It's the same situation here. The writers intended these episodes to be watched in order. So yes, they were 'meant' to be watched one after the other. You're making it sound like the episodes not included on this list don't add anything to the story or character development. In truth, every episode does. Even the seemingly 'standalone' episodes provide essential character development and often include plot seeds for future storylines (example: the gravitonium episode where we see a new villain that will almost certainly appear again).
I agree that it would be worth it to watch all of the episodes in order if you really wanted a genuine understanding of the show. You could skip some of the actual story in favor of watching the most important scenes from each episode, but you'd lack context for why those emotional beats were important.

For instance, in FZZT, Fitz is feeling inferior and helpless because he didn't jump off the plane for Simmons. Ward, the ever-present hero, did. Then, he has a chance to make progress and feel confident in his abilities in The Hub.

A few episodes later, you get Seeds. It's important to watch Seeds just to understand how difficult it was for Fitz to find a friend and to feel like he belonged somewhere. This is what helps you fully understand where Fitz is really coming from when he says to Ward, "we're friends, aren't we?"

The story of the week in each episode is not vital to the overall mythology of the show, but the focus on these small moments gives texture and context for the characters' feelings.
I don't understand why this is such a big deal, with the list even being perceived by some as somehow impolite in regard to the writers, actors, etc. People, who for various reasons prefer to watch only the essential episodes and skip the more filler ones, can either do that or not bother with the show at all. What would the writes and executives want more – 'casual' viewers or no viewers? In my opinion, the first option is correct. Casual viewers are a source of profit, which in the end allows the show to go on and the staff who work on it to have a job, as well as please the true fans, who appreciate their whole work. And if people sample the show through a 'best of' selection of episodes and like what they see, they might turn into regular viewers when Season 2 starts or tell about the show someone else, who will. Perhaps they’ll even catch up on all the weaker and less important episodes that they didn’t want to watch before and become real fans.

This alternative is still better than if people completely ignore the show. Basically, the whole format of stand-alone episodes exist and is being used in TV shows in order for them to be more accessible to the casual viewers, who are expected not to watch every single episode, but nevertheless are still valued. Why shouldn't the 'best of' binge watchers be valued, or at least welcomed, as well?
Personally I can't wait for when I have time this summer to re-watch the entire season with an eye especially for clues to Ward's betrayal.
Anuris, again, you're calling those episodes "filler" though. I completely disagree. Like FIREFLY, each episode of SHIELD exists for either a plot purpose, a character development purpose, a long-term storyline purpose, or a combination of all three. Just because an episode doesn't necessarily move the main plot forward doesn't mean it isn't essential for other reasons (which may not become apparent until later on). For eample, many of the omitted episodes from this list introduced potential villians, characters, and relationships that will likely come important later on. The writers are smart. They don't just make standalone episodes for the sake of making standalone episodes.
Actually, Firefly was filled with standlone episodes that didn't connect to anything. In fact, most of the episodes are standalones - "The Train Job," "Shindig," "Bushwacked," "Safe," all standalones. Sure, they provide context and give character development, but that's doesn't make them not standalones.

Now, the fact that they are standalones doesn't mean they are BAD. They are all quite GOOD. But if you wanted to see one episode, you wouldn't need to see any others.
It seems like there's disagreement based on how one defines "arc" - the standalone episodes of Firefly might not have contributed to the overall mytharc of the season, but the character moments in each did. Defining "arc" as the significant plot points and the significant character points is very broad. X-Files had a ton of Monster of the Week standalone episodes that had small amounts of character development. That doesn't make them part of the mytharc.
alliterator, every one of those FIREFLY episodes you mentioned contains important character development moments (and in some cases, plots seeds for storylines that probably would have been explored in later seasons). Therefore, they are essential viewing in my opinion. In Joss' shows, the central plotline is only one aspect of his shows. Character development, sub-plots, and other factors are just as important.
I have see almost all of the eps of Shield so far, I've only missed since Turn Turn Turn. So I will get caught up this weekend. I love this show. I don't care what the critics say.
I guess we just have to agree to disagree, libradude. In my opinion, Firefly was one of the few Joss shows to be very, very standalone (there are only a few episodes that connect directly). BTVS has a mixture of standalone and storyarc, often including a little bit of storyarc in with mostly standalone episodes, while Angel started with only standalone and then grew more and more serialized until Season Four, where almost every episode connected to one another (a thing that was repeated during Dollhouse Season Two).

Agents of SHIELD, I believe, is similar to a regular Buffy season - it starts off with a bunch of standalones, then there is a twist in the middle of the season ("The Bridge" in this case) followed by increasing storyarc episodes and then a full case of Wham Episodes. It was the pattern for Buffy Seasons Two through Seven and it worked out pretty well most of the time. However, like with AoS, a lot of the early Monster of the Week episodes of Buffy could be skipped without anything being lost ("Inca Mummy Girl" anyone?).
libradude: I know filler has a bad sound to it, I tried to soften it a little by making the distinction between the essential episodes and the "more filler ones"... or in other words the less important and in general weaker/less interesting episodes. You might not consider any episodes weak, unimportant, uninteresting or filler, but the fact is I know people who do and even stopped watching the show, because they didn't like the first half of the season. The initial episodes might introduced certain elements and planted some seeds that became or will become more important later, but even the people who stayed with the show retrospectively don't consider all of them good or entertaining (myself included). That's just how it is and it can't be changed. Tastes differ and for some people a boring origin of some future villain or small character development just isn't worth the time that they have to spend on an otherwise boring and uninventive episode. That's also the difference between the standalone episode of AoS and Firefly or for example Angel Season 5. The standalone episodes on those shows might have been episodic, but they were entertaining (interesting, original...) as well and because of that, many people enjoyed them (like you enjoy all the episodes of AoS) and didn't consider them as filler episodes that you have to somehow endure through in order to get to the main "course" that you came for.

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